The Samsung Group of Seoul, South Korea, is a corporate conglomerate that is responsible for the manufacture of a wide array of consumer electronic devices and home appliances, along with other technologies. In recent months, this corporation has experienced turbulent times in the courtroom against one of its great rivals, Apple Inc. A recent Samsung lawsuit seeking $100 million in claims from Apple was thrown out by South Korea’s Seoul Central District Court a few weeks ago. The company was further hurt by the loss of a patent lawsuit within the South Korean courts that would have banned Apple products from Samsung’s home country.
Since so many will be no doubt opening gifts from both Apple and Samsung on Wednesday morning, in advance of Christmas we decided to focus both sides of this global legal battle in our Companies We Follow series. Last week we profiled Apple and their recent focus on maps and navigation. Today, we’re focusing on Samsung by taking an in-depth look at that corporation’s recent published patent applications and issued patents coming from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. As always, we’ve scrounged up an intriguing group of innovations coming from a global leader in research and development.
The featured patent application today focuses on a developed system of interacting with a mobile device that has been pursued by many device manufacturers recently. This system is capable of receiving vocal inputs from a user and converting that speech into a digital command that can be processed by the device. Other patent applications that we’ve noticed include a couple of improvements to image applications available for mobile devices, including a method of creating a 3D representation of a photo gallery.
We’ve also included a group of recently issued patents that protect some other interesting mobile device technology developments. Today, we’ve picked three patents that involve improvements to mobile device connectivity, including one patent protecting a method for wi-fi providers to block unauthorized users who are within range. Also, we turned up a patent that describes a novel system of paying for public transit fare through a mobile device.
Voice Activated Search and Control for Applications
U.S. Patent Application No. 20130332168
Mobile electronic devices, both tablets and smartphones, utilize a number of novel technological systems, especially those related to the user interface for those devices. Most of these computing devices include a touchscreen for user interaction, a technology not widely seen in consumer devices until the advent of the smartphone. By touching the screen, a user can scroll through option, open an application or complete many other commands.
There are times, however, where touching the device’s screen is not an ideal way of operating the device. For instance, a user might be driving a vehicle, or may be wearing gloves or something else that hinders their ability to use the touchscreen. Some device manufacturers have tried to address this by implementing new means of controlling a device. Apple devices, for example, allow users to interact with a computerized voice named Siri to open and operate apps on the iPhone.
This patent application has been filed by Samsung with the USPTO in the attempts of protecting their own voice-recognition technology for user operation of a device. This system relies on a form of technology referred to as automatic speech recognition (ASR), which involves a digital means of converting speech into a series of words that can be processed by a computer. The ASR system has a generic vocabulary of words that it understands and can convert uttered speech to for running certain commands.
When a user speaks a sentence or phrase when using this Samsung ASR system, the phrase is separated into a first word section and a second words section. The first word that is converted is used to help the processor determine what operation to run on the computing device. The second word, or group of second words following the first word, helps provide contextual information for the user command.
Claim 1 of this Samsung patent application would give the company the right to protect:
“A method for voice activated search and control, comprising: converting, using an electronic device, a first plurality of speech signals into one or more first words; using the one or more first words for determining a first phrase contextually related to an application space; using the first phrase for performing a first action within the application space; converting, using the electronic device, a plurality of second speech signals into one or more second words; using the one or more second words for determining a second phrase contextually related to the application space; and using the second phrase for performing a second action that is associated with a result of the first action within the application space.”
Other Patent Applications
Samsung has shown a lot of interest in improving it’s patent holdings related to portable electronic devices, to judge by the company’s recent patent applications published by the USPTO. Of these, we’re noticing a few interesting applications that describe improvements to various photo and image applications found on Samsung devices. For example, U.S. Patent Application No. 20130335450, entitled Apparatus and Method for Changing Images in Electronic Device, discusses improved methods of utilizing pictures for background wallpaper on a device. This system allows a user to incorporate multiple image files onto a single backdrop without having to edit the pictures together manually. Photo editing through an electronic device is the focus of U.S. Patent Application No. 20130332857, which is titled Photo Edit History Shared Across Users in Cloud System. This system makes it easier for a user to take pictures with an electronic device and upload them to a cloud system, allowing for editing from other computing devices.
Other patent applications filed by Samsung with the USPTO target other developments to the user interface for devices, especially for 3D graphical user interfaces (GUI). U.S. Patent Application No. 20130332871, filed under the title Portable Apparatus With a GUI, discusses a new interface for gallery applications that can fit more pictures onto the screen than typical grid layouts. Images attached to the patent application depict three-dimensional representations of photo galleries, such as a rotating spiral or a depth grid. U.S. Patent Application No. 20130326422, which is titled Method and Apparatus for Providing Graphical User Interface, would protect a 3D GUI which is responsive to motion and visual recognition inputs as well as touch input.
Issued Patents of Note
As Samsung’s recent legal struggles with Apple indicate, the patent portfolio held by a single corporation is very important for legally protecting the technology developed by that corporation. Focusing now on the patents recently issued to Samsung, the Companies We Follow series turns to take a look at the new additions to the company’s patent holdings. As with the patent applications discussed above, we’re noticing a lot of innovations related to mobile devices and related computing systems.
Methods of securely connecting mobile devices to wireless networks and other devices are covered by a trio of intriguing patents issued within the past few weeks. For example, U.S. Patent No. 8611318, which is titled Method and System for Connecting Mobile Communication Terminal with Access Point, makes it easier for coffee shops, restaurants or other businesses offering wi-fi Internet access to disable access to mobile devices that are within range but aren’t in the building. U.S. Patent No. 8607047, entitled Mobile System, Service System, and Service Providing Method to Securely Transmit Private Information for Use in Service, protects methods of securely storing sensitive private information, like a credit card number, on a device and transmitting that data as well. U.S. Patent No. 8606183, issued under the title Method and Apparatus for Remote Controlling Bluetooth Device, describes a system of controlling a Bluetooth-enabled media device through a Bluetooth headset.
Some novel consumer goods and services are also protected by a few other patents that we’ve taken a look at today. One interesting patent, U.S. Patent No. 8611001, titled Electronic Paper Display Device and Method of Manufacturing the Same, protects the manufacture of an electronic device that utilizes an electronic paper display which mitigates issues related to dead regions of color on the screen. Finally, U.S. Patent No. 8606710, which is titled Method and System for Paying Public Transportation Fare via Mobile Device, protects a system through which mobile device owners can pay public transit fares through the device while seated on the bus, reducing wait times caused by passengers paying their fare while boarding.